A man known as the London Patient appears to be the second known patient to be cured of HIV. This incredible incident gives scientists new hope that a cure is possible to find.
The London Patient who had HIV and suffered from Hodgkin’s lymphoma received a bone marrow transplant from a donor with CCR 5 mutation in 2016, according to the New York Times.
The transplant eliminated cancer without dangerous side effects, and the transplanted immune cells, which are now resistant to HIV, have completely replaced his vulnerable cells.
Scientists describe the case as a long-term remission publicly, but most experts call it a cure, according to the paper. The researchers will publish their report in the journal Nature.
Those kinds of transplants, however, are dangerous and were not successful in other patients. They are also impractical to attempt to cure millions of people already infected by HIV.
The London Patient was diagnosed with HIV in 2003. But it was only in 2012 when he started to take drugs to control the symptoms. He also developed Hodgkin lymphoma that year and agreed to a stem cell transplant in 2016 to treat cancer.
With the right donor, the London patient might also get a bonus beyond treating cancer: a possible cure for HIV.
Doctors found a donor with a gene mutation that has a natural resistance to HIV. About one percent of people descended from northern Europeans have inherited the mutation from both parents. They are immune to most HIV, and the donor had this mutation.
Lead researcher Ravindra Gupta of University College London said that was an ‘improbable event.’ “That’s why this has not been observed more frequently.”
The transplant changed the man’s immune system and gave him HIV resistance. He voluntarily stopped taking drugs to see if the infection would return but the virus did not come back. There is still no trace of it after 18 months off the drugs.
“I never thought that there would be a cure during my lifetime,” he expressed.
The first person to be cured of HIV is Timothy Ray Brown, also known as Berlin patient.
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